The Flowers of Tomorrow
(Ashita saku hana)
(Ashita saku hana)
MIYAMOTO Yuriko (宮本百合子)
Looking at the history of literature, one can see that it is always in times when the rights of the people have been expanded and all are allowed to express their own thoughts and feelings that women have been drawn into literary activities in a truly new sense.
At the start of the Meiji era, amidst the calls for freedom and people’s rights, women rapidly receiving equal education to men, giving political speeches, at a time when equality of the sexes was considered a foregone conclusion, several works appeared in Japan: Kimura Akinobu’s ‘A Mirror for Womanhood’ and Wakamatsu Shizuko’s ‘The Sailor Boy’ [a translation and adaptation of Adelaide Anne Proctor’s poetry], among them. They depicted young women’s hopes for a better society and the warp and weft of life around them. Starting with Higuchi Ichiyo before them, and throughout the Meiji era, there have been many woman writers with considerable literary achievements. But the development of democratic literature in Japan has historically grown with the global progress of democracy at the dawn of the Showa era, and we have seen the birth of Proletarian literature. At the same time, in the midst of this, woman authors have emerged from a generation of working women who are different to those who came before. Sata Ineko, Matsuda Tokiko, Hirabayashi Taiko, Fujishima Maki, and Tsuboi Sakae are just that sort. These woman writers have all led working lives full of struggles since they were girls, and all have decided to try to express through literature the hopes, joys, tears and endurances of truly living life as a woman.
As the war stretched on, we endured life deprived of voices and letters. Did our spirits live on, feeling nothing, through those silenced days?
When the time comes, flowers will bloom, yes, even the moss. That pain, that thought—why should we not have expected that Japanese women who have endured their whole lives as a woman will now gradually begin to talk about these things and will create a literature that has the intent of being part of the foundation of a better life? We have words. Now we are trying to tell our truth with them.